Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin-Kebbi
Celebrating Uhola festival has been a splendid experience for the people of Zuru Emirate, Kebbi State. The festival, inherited from generations of yore, is meant to appease gods for bountiful harvest as well as seek protection against outbreaks of diseases and natural disasters.
Celebrated by the members of the five chiefdoms of the emirate, the ceremony is mainly manifested in songs, music and cultural dances performed by different troupes of dancers, which represent the diverse classes of vocations and specialisations in the emirates.
The dances, performed by youths, farmers, hunters and blacksmiths include Yadato, which marks the rites of passage for boys and girls. Others are Guinea Corn Thrashing Dance from Dabai Chiefdom, Golmo Dance from Wasagu Chiefdom, Chaki or Yaba dance from Danko Chiefdom, and Blacksmiths Dance, known locally as Rawan Yan Tauri from Fakai Chiefdom.
This year’s celebration at the Zuru Township Stadium was very exciting and entertaining. It was attended by thousands of the sons and daughters of Zuru Emirate, including the Deputy Governor, Col. Samaila Dabai Yombe (retd).
Emir of Zuru, Alhaji Muhammad Sank Sami, explained: “The festival is aimed at promoting interaction between small and large scale farmers as well as boosting the tourism potentials of the emirate in line with the state government’s drive towards exploring alternative means of economic development.
“Zuru Emirate has the collective resolve to preserve Uhola festival and other aspects of our culture that tell our story. These cultural forms remind us and our children who we are, where we came from, what we do, how we live and what we expect in the future.
“In particular, Uhola festival provides opportunities for our people to share friendship, mutual respect for each other and cherished values of love, peace and unity. The people of Zuru Emirate celebrate Uhola festival to show gratitude to God for a bountiful harvest as well as God’s protection against evil forces that bring diseases, wars, lean harvest and so on.
“Participants in Uhola festival express the realities and experiences of their existence in songs, performances and music. The songs usually extol and cherish the virtues like dignity of labour, bravery and chastity on one hand, and condemn vices like laziness, indolence, immorality, dishonest on the other.”
The monarch appealed to the three tiers of government to assist the emirate in the areas of agriculture and insecurity: “We have serious concerns regarding agriculture in the emirate. First, there is need for government to extend its support to farmers engaged in small and medium -scale production of crops like maize, guinea corn, soybeans, groundnut and beans, especially in Zuru Emirate. There is need to attract investors in food processing to reduce the wastage experienced by our farmers.
“Our proximity with Zamfara and Kaduna states on the northern and eastern borders caused some security concerns recently. Armed bandits as well as instances of herdsmen/farmers clashes have on few occasions, harassed communities, kidnapped individuals and threatened farming activities in parts of Bena,Danko, Wasagu, Maga in Danko/Wasagu LGA and at Garin Hausa, Marafa and Mahuta environs in Fakai Local Government Area.
“While we recognise government’s role in ensuring the security of lives and properties in the state, we must give our support towards existing efforts of security agencies in maintaining law and order within our domain.
“To increase the existing peaceful co- existence we are enjoying in the state, I wish to call on the state government to provide enough grazing land, cattle ranches, drinking ponds and earth dams for nomads as the best way of averting farmers-herdsmen clashes that has torn many communities apart in some states.”